I was speaking to a guy I know, who was telling me about a cruise he and his wife had booked to the Caribbean. Not my sort of holiday but it sounded as if it would be lovely, and I told him so.
'I hope so,' he replied. 'It isn't cheap.'
'I can imagine,' I politely replied.
'Yeah.' He leaned his head towards me. 'Nine grand for the two of us,' he said out the side of his mouth, as if this was some great secret he was sharing with me.
Now, I hadn't asked the price so there was no need for him to tell me that. And to be honest, I wasn't interested.
To be fair, he's a nice guy. And I know he doesn't earn far from what I earn so unless he has an inheritance stashed away, I doubt he's loaded. Whether this holiday was paid for by hard-earned cash or by credit card, makes no odds. But the fact that he felt the need to tell me how much it cost, cheapened the entire thing for me.
Likewise a woman at work who had bought a new Audi.
'We won't be getting a new car for a long time,' she said. 'I want to get my fourteen grand's worth out of this one.'
Uh, what? Why are you telling me this?
I'm not the richest person in the world but I'm comfortably enough off. I earn enough to pay the bills and have a bit left over to save and spend. I'm proud to say I'm good with money. What I earn isn't important, as long as I can get by. And I've put my money where my mouth is with that statement (ha!) because I've taken a drop in pay before to get out of a miserable job into one that makes me happier. Flashiness doesn't impress me in the slightest. It's nothing to do with jealousy (I no more want a Caribbean cruise or an Audi than a hole in the head), I know folk who have plenty money but are gracious and discreet with it. In particular a friend of my Mum whose husband owns a successful business and if they aren't millionaires, they aint far from it. The woman is one of the most humble, decent human beings I've ever met and I love spending time with her. She tells me about the holidays they go on, and I know they cost thousands, although she doesn't have the compulsion to tell me that. Because it doesn't matter. It's just conversation. She's as interested in my weekends camping in Ullapool as I am in her African safaris. Money really doesn't come into it. At all.
Perhaps its because she's secure in who she is, so she doesn't need to validate herself by adding a price tag to everything. Who knows?
Speaking of camping though, I remember the time I bought a two-man tent from Argos, reduced from £49.99 to £19.99. I was so proud of myself and told everyone at work.
'Our tent cost four-hundred pounds,' one of the guys bragged, before telling us all about his all-singing, all-dancing expensive tent.
(BTW, if I were to spend £400 on a tent, it would have to sing and dance and all the rest, believe me).
Anyway, I was more impressed with my bargain tent than his £400 tent. Because even if I had £400 I wouldn't spend it on a tent. Frugalism impresses me. It's the polar opposite from what, according to society should impress me, but it does.
I'll be impressed by your Prada jacket. As long as you got it for a tenner from the Charity Shop. I'll be impressed by your pedigree dog. As long as you got him from the Pound. I'll be impressed by your champagne and caviar. As long as you got them from the bargain section in Lidl. I'll be impressed by your £400 tent. As long as you got it for £19.99 in the Argos sale.
Are you flash or frugal? And which would impress you more - a nine grand cruise or a £19.99 two-man tent?!